Running over protesters on roadways could soon be legal in North Dakota

Protesters may want to think twice about blocking roads in North Dakota.

Republican lawmakers in the state introduced a bill last week in the legislature that would not hold motorists liable for negligently running over someone obstructing a roadway. The bill was introduced in response to a year of protests over a proposed pipeline near the Standing Rock Indian Reservation. 

"A driver of a motor vehicle who negligently causes injury or death to an individual obstructing vehicular traffic on a public road, street, or highway may not be held liable for any damages," the bill reads. "A driver of a motor vehicle who  unintentionally causes injury or death to an individual obstructing vehicular traffic on a public road, street, or highway is not guilty of an offense."

Lawmakers told the Bismarck Tribune that the bill is needed after protesters blocked traffic during oil pipeline protests. 

"It’s shifting the burden of proof from the motor vehicle driver to the pedestrian,” Rep. Keith Kempenich told the paper. "(Roads) are not there for the protesters. They’re intentionally putting themselves in danger."

The bill will be heard by the North Dakota's House Transportation Committee on Friday.

Justin Boggs is a writer for the E.W. Scripps National Desk. Follow him on Twitter @jjboggs or on Facebook.

Print this article Back to Top